Review: Pinata by Leopoldo Gout

Piñata: A NovelPiñata: A Novel by Leopoldo Gout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Pinata is a recently released, spooky, toe-curling and thought-provoking Possession Horror story from the mind of Leopoldo Gout.

My initial attraction was to the cover. I mean, look at it!

Then I read the synopsis and knew it was something I wanted to pick up as soon as possible. I’m so happy I did.

In this story we follow single-mom, Carmen, and her two daughters, Izel and Luna. Carmen works for a prestigious New York design firm, who have projects all over the globe. Carmen has been assigned the role of site manager for a renovation project in Tulancingo, a city in the Mexican state of Hildago.

Specifically, the project is the renovation of an ancient abbey into a modern hotel, while trying to adhere to the original beauty of the space. A project Carmen is passionate about.

Carmen is excited for the project for a number of reasons. It’s a challenging renovation and a big step-up in responsibility for Carmen. Additionally, she gets to bring her daughters, so it’s a chance for them to be exposed to the culture of their ancestors.

As they move into their little rental, Carmen is excited with the possibilities the summer holds for them. There’s trepidation too, of course, it’s a city after all and the girls will be home alone during the day while she is working.

With this in mind, Carmen does set up some ground rules for the girls. They know not to leave the house on their own, or to open the door to strangers.

We follow Carmen as she deals with the girls, the local workers and the stress of her job. We also see how the girls are adjusting to their new environment and we meet a few of the local characters with ties to the abbey and its history.

On a day that the girls visit Carmen at work an accident occurs, which ends up exposing a hidden tomb packed full of mysterious, ancient artifacts. Unfortunately, that incident changes everything for Carmen and her girls.

Although her employer doesn’t necessarily blame Carmen for the accident, they need to pull her from the project, for optics, thus cutting Carmen and the girls’ trip short.

As they return to New York, Carmen’s concerned about the future of her job. What if she does end up getting fired? How will she provide for them?

Additionally, the girls seem to be taking the change hard. Particularly, Luna, normally bright, bubbly and out-going, now is distant and morose. What’s going on there?

Things go from bad to worse for the stressed family, as violent incidents occur both at school and at home. People are getting hurt, worse even. Carmen begins to suspect that something is seriously wrong with Luna.

When Izel opens up and shares her concerns about her sister with her Mom, Carmen can no longer ignore it. They need help. They need to free Luna from whatever has taken hold of her before it’s too late for them all.

I loved the way Gout told this story. The settings were distinct and I enjoyed getting to know the characters, particularly Carmen and her girls. It’s a very family-centered story and I was definitely along for their journey.

I felt the writing was descriptive in a way that helped me to picture everything perfectly in my mind. I would love to see this adapted to film. I think it could really translate well to that format.

The tension builds rather nicely and as you get closer to the end, it starts to get quite anxiety inducing. Things definitely snowball quickly once they get back to New York and actually, for me, that did throw the pace off a little.

The initial build-up, the family’s stay in Mexico, it takes its time. The stage is set in a slow-burn fashion, but then the conclusion almost feels too rushed in comparison.

With this being said, I still feel like the concept, character work and themes explored were all really well done. I loved how Gout included the historical and cultural aspects to the story. For me, that made it stand out from other Possession stories I have read.

Overall, I feel like this is a memorable and engaging story that I am proud to have displayed on my shelves. I definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a solid Possession story, or dark fiction involving heavy historical, or cultural, components.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Nightfire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was a highly anticipated release for me and it did not disappoint!

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Review: The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown

The Scourge Between StarsThe Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Scourge Between Stars is a SF-Horror novella from Ness Brown. I had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook, which is performed by my favorite narrator, Bahni Turpin.

You know what I’m going to say: I would absolutely recommend the audio format. I’m serious though. It’s great!

This story follows, Jack Albright, a captain on the starship Calypso. The Calypso is slowly making its way back to its home planet after a failed mission.

There are constant threats involved with traveling through deep space and Jack, along with her crew, question if they will even be able to make it back to Earth. As if food shortages and potentially harmful space debris aren’t enough, there seems to be a murderer on board.

As bodies start dropping, and we’re talking in a very brutal, bloody fashion, Jack’s realizes she needs to figure out this danger ASAP.

Along with an AI, Watson, who I’ll admit to being fully suspicious of the entire way through, Jack digs deep into the mystery. The clock is ticking. Will anyone make it off this ship alive?

I really enjoyed my time listening to this story. The SF-writing was really well done. It felt fluid and engaging the whole way through.

I liked following Jack and wish I could have gotten the chance to learn more about her, the ship and Watson. That’s sometimes the only disappointing thing about a novella; that it’s not longer. I’m left wanting more. Please understand, this is a compliment.

I seriously hope this is like a prequel novella or something to a larger series. I would love more with these characters and within this SF-world.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

I’m happy to have been introduced to the work of Ness Brown and am looking forward to more!

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Review: Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury

Delicious MonstersDelicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She’s stretched her legs. She’s tied her sneakers and she is off, in the running for my favorite book of 2023!!!

Although there’s a long road ahead, I know Delicious Monsters has serious staying power. This was a darkly delicious story, which now lives rent free in my brain.

This story follows two young women, Daisy and Brittany, 10-years apart. Daisy comes first and I would say she is decidedly the star of this show.

Brittany is a host and co-creator of a popular web series, Haunted, who is interested in featuring a property owned by Daisy’s family on her show. Brittany would win the award for ‘best supporting actress’.

When the story begins, Daisy and her Mom, Grace, are living together in a small apartment in Toronto. Daisy has recently been dumped by her boyfriend and she’s admittedly struggling with moving past that.

It seems almost too good to be true then, when just when they need it most, Daisy’s Uncle passes away and leaves the family mansion to Daisy’s Mom, Grace. After a brief discussion, the two decide to pack up everything and move. Bye-bye city, hello, wide open spaces.

Set in a remote location, that’s extremely challenging to get to, the property is steeped in mystery. Grace refuses to enter the mansion, so the two actually take up residence in a bunkie, a smaller home on the property.

The goal though is to run the big house as a B&B, and Grace sets out to accomplish that right away. Daisy helps out, explores the property and even makes a couple new, intriguing friends.

As they settle in though, Daisy begins having disturbing experiences that make her question the history of the property and her mother’s story regarding it all.

Brittany’s sections are interspersed amongst the Daisy sections. It’s a mystery precisely why she is so interested in the property, like what exactly happened there, but you know it’s not good.

As things escalate with Daisy’s timeline, it feels like it is leading towards a violent end. From there you watch as the two timelines merge and all is ultimately revealed.

Delicious Monsters is a wild freaking ride. I was buckled in for it all and absolutely adored it start-to-finish.

Immediately, I was struck by how fantastic Sambury’s writing is. I knew this going in, but it’s been a while, so I guess I had forgotten a bit.

Let me tell you about it. Sambury’s writing is fluid as heck. It’s beautiful without being so flowery that it loses all semblance of a coherent narrative. It’s emotional, it’s dark and it doesn’t shy away from examining difficult topics.

The character development is excellent. Daisy, in particular, is so compelling. You’re in her head a lot and it’s not necessarily a comfortable place to be, but you grow to love her and have such empathy for her journey.

Additionally, there is great mystery to this story, as well as some truly haunting imagery. As you race towards the conclusion, things, I believe intentionally, start to get a little addled. You won’t be sure what’s up, what’s down, what’s real and what’s not. It was intense and a real page turner.

This was such a fun reading experience for me. It’s one of those books where I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time. It’s that good. It’s stunning, crushing, hope-inducing and toe-curling. It’s everything.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Horror, YA Horror, Haunted House stories, or Dark Fiction in general. There are quite a few sensitive topics explored though, so I urge you to seek out the author’s review, as she includes a full list of content warnings.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I have been anticipating this book since July of 2021, when I first heard of the initial concept. It did not disappoint in the slightest. This is a phenomenal story!

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Review: Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder

Sister, Maiden, MonsterSister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sister, Maiden, Monster is a wild, imaginative, bizarre, toe-curling, cringe-inducing story that is a conglomeration of many different genres.

If I had to narrow it down, I would describe it as say, Cosmic Horror blended with Apocalyptic Pandemic Fiction, and I guess, a side of Transgressive Horror.

I read this in less than a day and it left my head spinning. I know I didn’t understand it all and honestly, I can’t even say that I ‘enjoyed’ it. Like it’s not a jolly good time, but I am sort of gobsmacked by the entire thing.

I don’t want to really go into the story at all, because I went into this knowing nothing about it, and I feel like that’s the way to go. Be warned however, as I mentioned earlier, that this is Pandemic Fiction.

I know a lot of people aren’t ready for that yet, considering all we’ve been through over the last few years.

This story is broken into distinct sections and each one follows a different perspective. In a way, that arrangement made it seem a bit more like connected novellas, as opposed to one cohesive story.

I wasn’t crazy about that format, I think I would have preferred to switch back and forth between the different perspectives as the story progressed. However, that is 100% personal taste and the author should be free to tell the story any way they wish.

For me though, I do think that had an effect on my experience with this story.

As far as the perspectives, I feel like my favorite was Erin. She is the first character we hear from and actually the one whose experience, with the pandemic unfolding, most closely relates to what we all experienced in early-2020.

By the end of the story, I was still enjoying the characters I was meeting, but I had less of a grasp on what was actually happening to them. And Baby Gregory, don’t even get me started! You’d have to read it to believe it.

I did really enjoy Snyder’s writing style. I felt it was very smooth and engaging. They also explored some interesting themes and were able to successfully carry those themes throughout.

Overall, I think this is a compelling story with a lot to cringe at and consider regarding our world. I would recommend this to people who enjoy Bizzaro Fiction, or Cosmic Horror. You need to be prepared for wild events if you pick this up though. I’m just saying.

Also, I did listen to the audiobook and absolutely recommend that medium. The narration was fantastic. It pulled me into the story right away.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

This is the first of Snyder’s work that I have picked up, but I am definitely interested in reading more. Sister, Maiden, Monster releases this Tuesday, February 21st!!!

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Review: No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill

No One Gets Out Alive: A NovelNo One Gets Out Alive: A Novel by Adam Nevill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up No One Gets Out Alive as Book #14 for my TBR-Haul Project. I was excited to get to it and to be checking off another backlist Horror novel from my TBR.

I originally hauled this in January 2019, with every intention of reading it quickly. Then I held it in my hands, read some reviews and I was seriously intimidated.

My edition of this book comes in at a whopping 628-pages, which is pretty chunky for a Horror novel known to be a terrifying, emotionally-exhausting mindfuck.

But one of my intentions with this TBR-Haul Project is to read books like this. Books I’ve been too nervous to pick up before and in this case, rightly so.

It did take me a full 2-months to read. Not because it was bad, or I wasn’t enjoying it, but because the content is heavy AF. We’re talking every trigger warning EVER.

I finished reading it on January 29, 2023 and am just now feeling like I am able to talk about it. I needed some serious time to process Stephanie’s journey.

There are so many important topics explored in this one, such as the cycle of poverty, urban isolation, sexual exploitation and the exploitation of victims by society and the media in the aftermath of violent crimes.

Personally, I feel like Nevill did a phenomenal job of digging into such meaty subject matter.

This story follows Stephanie Booth, who is down on her luck. After the death of her father, she knows she can’t continue living with her toxic, abusive step-mother. Therefore, she’s forced out of the only home she’s ever known.

Unfortunately, Stephanie has no other family to lean on and she’s recently split with her boyfriend, Ryan. In short, Stephanie doesn’t have a safety net and is on her own.

Working temp jobs doesn’t provide her with a steady enough income to build a safe life for herself, so she is flailing. In search of cheap lodgings, she discovers a flat for rent on a message board at a grocery store. The cheapest one she’s ever seen. Even though it seems too good to be true, Stephanie can’t afford to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The flat is located at 82 Edgehill Road in North Birmingham. An address you’ll never forget after you read this.

She is given a tour of the building by the creepy Landlord and ignoring all her intuitions, throws caution to the wind and accepts the flat.

After just one night, she is regretting her decision and kicking herself for not listening to her instincts. That’s the thing with poverty though, it robs you of your choices. Now she has to deal with the fact that she is a girl on her own in the presence of an unhinged male stranger. You see, Knacker the landlord, lives in the building as well.

It’s more than him though, Stephanie hears voices, crying women, scratching at the floors and the distinct sounds of violence coming from behind walls and closed doors.

Still she can’t get out. Knacker refuses to return her deposit so she can leave and she doesn’t have the funds to secure another place. She stays, hoping her temp work will provide her with enough money to be able to find other lodgings.

As time wears on, the happenings inside the house escalate quickly. Stephanie begins to abandon hope. She’s trapped in a horrible spiral of increasing misfortune. Will she be able to make it out alive?

Y’all, I can’t go too much further into this without getting into the spoiler zone, so I will sort of leave it here. Let’s talk about my experience with this story though.

I went into this not really knowing anything besides what is included in the brief Publisher’s blurb. I recommend that. If you are concerned with triggers, just know everything is included in here, so if that makes you nervous, you may want to steer well clear.

This book will not be for everyone. There is an overriding feeling of fear that I found to be emotionally impactful. Stephanie’s time in the house is marked by sustained terror, where she is constantly anticipating violence against her. It’s tough to read, not gonna lie.

I think for those who can handle it though, it is well worth the read. I thought it was so impressive how Nevill could not just sustain that feeling of dread, but how he was able to build and build and build on it, until you feel like you might not be able to take any more.

Then just when your head and heart are about to explode, there is a marked shift in the narrative, where we begin to explore a new side to this type of violent experience.

I was really impressed with this one. When I was reading it, I was completely invested in Stephanie’s experience and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. The way it is told, it’s so easy to picture yourself in Stephanie’s shoes, like what would I do?

It’s eye-opening in a lot of ways, particularly about how Stephanie’s status in society sort of stripped her of options. Even she recognized this; pondering how her life had gotten to this point.

It was sad and heavy, but an important thing to consider, because this is reality for a lot of folks. Maybe not this exact set of events, but certainly the scenario that lead Stephanie to this point and trapped her there.

On this bright and shining note, I will end this review by saying, anyone who thinks they can handle this type of narrative, should check it out. I think, as horrifying as it is, there is a lot to be taken from this.

Stephanie’s story is going to live in mind for a long time to come.

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Review: Don’t Fear the Reaper (The Lake Witch Trilogy #2) by Stephen Graham Jones

Don't Fear the Reaper (The Lake Witch Trilogy, #2)Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Don’t Fear the Reaper released just in time for Valentine’s Day. Be still my Slasher-Loving heart. This was everything!

Stephen Graham Jones is a genius. His writing style is completely unique, distinct and is an absolute master class in Slasher lore. I’m hooked. ((pun intended))

In anticipation of this release, I recently reread the first book in the trilogy, My Heart Is a Chainsaw. I love that book and honestly, was concerned that nothing could top it.

Somehow, defying the general law of sequels, this was bigger, badder and more blockbuster than the first!

It’s been 4-years since the Independence Day Massacre. Jade, now going by her given name of Jennifer, has spent those years in prison. When her conviction is overturned, Jade returns to her native Proofrock.

As Jennifer’s luck would have it, on the very night she returns, a prison transport van carrying convicted serial killer, Dark Mill South, flips over in a blizzard. Dark Mill escapes and heads straight for Proofrock.

Back in town, Jennifer is reunited with her previously chosen final girl and dare I say, friend, Letha Mondragon. It’s a bittersweet reunion for the two women. They’ve both changed dramatically since that brutal night four years ago.

Very quickly bodies start dropping in harsh and creative ways. Is Dark Mill responsible for these killings? What would his motive be here? If not him, who?

True to character, Jennifer and Letha dive head first into the action, putting themselves in incredible danger. They essentially saved the town before. It looks like they’ll have to do it again, but if there’s really just one final girl, who will make it out alive?

This book starts with a bang and never ever lets up. Not for a moment. It has the classic slasher opening scenes, where stuff is already hitting the haunted ceiling fan.

In addition to all the phenomenal Slasher connections and references, I absolutely adored the character development displayed in this one. For both Jennifer and Letha. The student has truly become the master.

Also, I enjoyed getting more of the twins, Ginger and Cinnamon. I feel like their interactions with Jennifer and Letha added a lot to the narrative. It was like the older generation passing on the torch of horror to the younger generation.

Not that Letha and Jennifer are that much older, they aren’t old at all, but the experience of the Independence Day Massacre has certainly provided them with knowledge and seniority when it comes to be able to survive a Slasher.

I have no idea when the next book is slated to be released, but I do know I’ll be regularly stalking SGJ’s author page until we find out. I’m super anxious to learn the title and see the cover.

This series is everything I have ever wanted. Having grown up on a fairly steady diet of Slashers, thanks to my super cool older siblings, these stories bring me so much nostalgia and joy. I love the entire vibe.

While I recognize that this series may not be for everyone, I know that with the people it resonates with, it’s going to really hit. I cannot stop thinking about this. I’m really looking forward to reading both books again just prior to the release of the third.

If you love Horror Cinema, and Slashers in particular, and you haven’t picked up this series yet, I cannot recommend it highly enough. You don’t want to miss out on this!

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Gallery / Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This was my most anticipated release of 2023 and it didn’t disappoint for a moment. Chef’s kiss!!

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Review: The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar by Robin R. Means Coleman, Ph.D. and Mark H. Harris

The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to OscarThe Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar by Robin R. Means Coleman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar is exactly what the title describes, an examination of the role of Black actors and characters in Horror cinema, from the dawn of cinema through the present day.

Upon starting this book I was immediately taken with the humor of the authors. While the topic they are tackling is important and worth examination, they present it in a way that makes it fun and engaging. You’re learning so much, but it doesn’t feel like a chore. Win!

It was so interesting to tackle each section that the authors covered. It really took you through every aspect of Black Horror. They also included so many examples of the films that they felt exemplified the different topics/influences/aspects they were discussing.

It would be interesting to rewatch some of the films mentioned keeping in mind things that I learned from this book. I wish there were a complete list of every title they mentioned. I would love to watch them all.

Overall, I think this is an informative, fun and engaging piece of nonfiction. I loved the way the authors chose to present the information by using humor, honesty and a conversational narrative style. I feel like it makes it so much more appealing to a larger audience that way.

I would definitely recommend this one to any fan of Horror, or the history of Horror cinema in particular.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Gallery / Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I was fascinated by this and am so glad that I picked it up!

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Review: A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

A Sliver of DarknessA Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

A Sliver of Darkness is a short-story collection comprised of 10-tales by beloved author, C.J. Tudor. This was Tudor’s only 2022 release, a fact that she addresses within this book.

Anything from Tudor would get me excited, but I was particularly looking forward to trying out some shorter fiction from her. This collection was definitely interesting.

I found these stories to be unique and entertaining. It’s pretty clear Tudor has entered her dystopian/post-apocalyptic era and I’m not mad about it.

This explored themes that felt fresh and relevant to our post-pandemic world. It also got pretty murdery and twisted; two things I adore in dark, or speculative, fiction.

I enjoyed how each story had a short introduction by the author. This reminded me of King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I always enjoy when an author includes these types of insights into their inspirations, or connections, to each story. It makes the experience more personal.

Additionally, I feel like it helps to set-up the proper tone for each story. I’m definitely glad that Tudor decided to include them in the final copy of the book.

Overall, I found this collection to be varied, unpredictable, well-written, engaging and it definitely gave me a lot to think about.

Considering all the world has been through over the past 3-years, I don’t think it is surprising that this is the type of creativity Tudor felt like expressing. It definitely feels apropos for the times.

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I love Tudor’s style and will continue to pick up everything she writes!

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Review: The Spite House by Johnny Compton

The Spite HouseThe Spite House by Johnny Compton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Wait, this is a debut?!

I seriously had no idea while reading this. Just now looking over the book details did I discover this fun fact, making what I read even more impressive.

Johnny Compton is one to watch…

The Spite House follows dedicated father, Eric, who is on the run with his two daughters, Dess and Stacy. Starting in Maryland, the family has made it to Texas without major incident, but will that luck hold?

The road isn’t an easy place, with Eric only taking unreliable jobs paying cash where he can. It’s unclear exactly what they’re running from, but it is clear that it’s imperative they don’t get caught.

They’re living in hotels, barely getting by, when Eric discovers an ad for a live-in position at the Masson House, in Degener, Texas. The pay is six-figures, the hazards…it’s haunted. Reputedly, the most haunted house in Texas.

Haunted or not, Eric and his girls don’t have a lot of choices. Eric is intrigued. All they have to do is live at the property and report to the owner any paranormal happenings they might observe.

The exciting pay rate is one thing, but Eric has his own additional reasons for wanting to explore the potentially supernatural nature of the house.

This story follows the perspectives of Eric, Dess and Stacy, in the days leading up to and including their time at the Masson House. There’s a few other perspectives as well.

There’s Eunice, the lady who hires them, Lafonda, Eunice’s employee, Millie, Max, the children; there’s actually a lot of different perspectives helping to build out this story. While I understand why the author chose to tell it this way, it was actually the story’s biggest downfall for me personally.

It felt a little crowded. I’ll admit to finding it hard to track in certain places. Never Eric, Dess or Stacy. They were clear and distinct throughout. I even really enjoyed having Eunice and Lafonda’s insights, but for me personally, it could have ended there as far as perspectives were concerned.

The story itself was delightful in its sense of place. I loved the Southern vibe carried throughout, including the fantastic narration of the audiobook by Adam Lazarre-White.

Additionally, the themes and topics explored were unique and well-presented. The nature of the hauntings allowed Compton to build a sense of dread that really never let up. This was one of my favorite parts of this. It was eerie start-to-finish.

This includes Eric, Dess and Stacy’s situation. You know something is going on there, but at first, it’s not clear what it is. I liked how Compton chose to reveal that side of the story and it definitely helped to amplify the situation at Masson House.

I also found the history of the Masson House, and the property it sits on, fascinating. I love when land holds on to these sorts of generational traumas and carries it through to a modern-day perspective, or situation.

There’s something unsettling about that. I think we’ve all been to places that hold a certain feeling and I love watching that play out in fiction. Considering what could be behind those vibes. It’s so interesting to me.

Overall, I felt this was a unique and engaging story with a fabulously narrated audiobook. The Spite House should be on every Horror Lovers immediate TBR. You do not want to miss out on this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

I am so excited to read more from Johnny Compton in the future. If this book is any indication, he has a long and successful career ahead of him!

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Rereading My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a Chainsaw (The Lake Witch Trilogy, #1)My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My heart is full. I’m so glad I took the time to reread this one before diving into Don’t Fear the Reaper. This time around, I am switching my rating to a full 5-stars.

I feel like I got to know Jade’s character more this time. The first time, I was so focused on the Slasher references, some of the texture of the story was lost on me. Not this time. I see you, Jade, and I hear you loud and clear.

I think my biggest take-away this time through was actually Jade’s relationship with Slashers. I have a better understanding now of what drew her to that genre, what compelled her to learn all she could and what keeps her mind constantly cycling through all she knows as life gets tough, or uncertain, around her.

In a way, it is a self-soothing act for her and that makes my heart ache for her character even more than it did before. Jade has not had an easy life.

With the precariousness of her life, her living situation and future, Jade is searching for something solid and true. She craves a structure that won’t let her down.

She finds all she is looking for in Slashers. Any student of the genre knows that to be true. It does follow a certain pattern and Jade draws from that to relate to events that are going on around her. It’s a coping mechanism in a way.

I feel like the first time I read this, I was so invested in all Jade had to say about the genre that I failed to focus as much on why she was saying it.

Reading this again allowed me to focus more on the substance behind all that in-your-face Slasher goodness.

I am so excited to move forward with the next book. Don’t Fear the Reaper is releasing this coming Tuesday, February, 7th!! You’ve got just enough time to read this one before that release, if you haven’t already. Time to get cracking!


**4.5-stars rounded up**

My Heart Is a Chainsaw is Stephen Graham Jones most recent and brilliant, love letter to the Slasher genre. It’s also one of my most anticipated books of the year. Happily, it did not disappoint.

I actually finished this on September 2nd. Subsequently, I wrote a full review, which if I do say so myself, was pretty darn good.

Then due to major stupidity on my part, my laptop got inadvertently shutdown and all of my efforts were erased.

Normally, I would try to find another person within striking distance to blame, but unfortunately, it was just me, my dog and a potentially haunted ceiling fan.

But I digress…let’s try it again:

Jade Daniels is a social outcast in her small, lakeside town of Proofrock, Idaho. A half-Indian girl, forced to live with her abusive father, Jade changes her hair color often and views the world through a prism of her vast knowledge of the Horror genre.

As her high school career comes to a close, there’s not much on the horizon for Jade. She works as a janitor for the local public school system, and it seems she may be doing so well into the future.

That in and of itself is fine. If she could just stay away from her Dad and his pervy friend, it would all be okay.

When mysterious events around town start mirroring the plot structure of her favorite genre, however, Jade knows it’s finally happening. Oddly, she’s excited by the prospect.

Proofrock has a real-life Slasher on their hands!

Therefore, she does what any logical Horror Aficionado would do and tracks down the most obvious choice for Final Girl, in this case, new girl, Letha Mondragon, so she may teach her the fine art of defeating a Slasher.

Sure, there’s likely to be a high body count, that’s a given. After all, it’s almost time for the annual 4th of July celebration and we all know Slashers cannot resist events like that, but the final girl should still be able to stop him. Eventually.

I’m always amazed by how much Jones can pack into a story. Each page feels like a Master Class in the Horror genre; full of references and the rules that make my heart soar.

In addition to that though, he always doses us full of hard-hitting real world issues as well. There are many layers here, as there are in other novels of his that I have read.

This story was so much fun to read. It’s intricate, gritty, bloody, gory, smart, sarcastic, biting and fierce. The writing is top-notch and it’s going to remain in my mind for a long time to come.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am sure there are a lot of things I am forgetting to mention about this, but what can I say?

I’m silenced by greatness!

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